Should cellphones be banned in schools? Short answer: yes, but allow me to elaborate.
It took Queensland a long time, but they finally decided to ban cellphones in public schools from 2024. I wonder why it took them so long.
Yes, okay, I’m going to sound like such a bah-humbug old lady in this post, but it needs to be said.
It’s a big problem
I work at a school and the addiction to cellphones among not only teens, but the staff, is startling. I asked some students how much time they spend on their phones (seeing as most phones can track it) and one girl had spent 16 hours on her phone. 16 hours is pretty bad considering that most people are only awake for about 16 hours a day. What’s worse is that she spent that amount of time on her phone on a Monday in the middle of a school term. How are you supposed to get anything done if you are constantly on your phone?
As you can tell, I am totally in favour of the ban on cellphones in school. Are there times when using a cell phone in class can add to learning? Definitely. However, at this point, their use in schools has gotten completely out of hand. I see first-hand how bad they are for students, both cognitively and socially.
The benefits of banning phones
Banning cellphones obviously means that there is less distraction in class. Interestingly, the studies that have been done found that high-performing students didn’t show significant improvement when banning phones; but low-performing students did so much better – almost 7% better test scores.1 That’s pretty amazing considering that’s the only thing that changed – taking away phones. It makes sense, low-performing students are most likely the people who get distracted more easily.1
Similarly, having laptops in classrooms also affects low-performing students because they are more distractible by the internet.1 You’d think that schools can ban gaming sites and YouTube, but they cannot as kids always download a VPN and then they have access to everything – on the school’s dime. I understand that using laptops in classrooms can be very beneficial to learning, but I am finding that quite the opposite is true. Honestly, it seems like kids can’t help themselves. I’ve seen many teachers turn back to only using paper so that kids can just concentrate. This paragraph has nothing to do with cellphones. I just wanted to rant about laptops. Anyway…
To sum up this section, banning phones leads to less distraction and more time for learning.2
Being better able to pay attention is not the only benefit to banning cellphones, it also reduces cyberbullying.1 It’s so easy to take a picture of some kid at school and make them into a meme or edit it and put it online for all their peers to see. It’s humiliating.
How can you feel safe in a school environment if you’re being bullied online and you know that kids are taking photos and videos of you at school?
Obviously, bullying will always happen, but at least it can be reduced somewhat. I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects that cyberbullying can have on teens; it breaks my heart.
If you ban cell phones, parents may be concerned because they won’t get hold of their kids, but there is a simple solution: you call the office and they relay the message.3 It may be annoying for the office staff, but the inconvenience is worthwhile when you look at the positive outcomes.
I understand that for some students their cellphones are their only device to access the internet, but in Australia, that is not a problem. All private schools and most government schools provide kids with devices if they don’t have their own. They also provide an internet connection, so students don’t need to have their own devices.
The major problem – it’s addictive
What people don’t realise is that smartphone use and social media are addictive – super addictive. It’s even more addictive if your brain isn’t fully developed yet. I honestly think that some people just can’t help themselves and I feel bad for them, but at the same time, I am super annoyed with them.
Technology can be a great tool for learning, but from what I’ve seen, it’s just a major tool for distracting young, developing minds.
It’s so important for parents to model how to responsibly use a device/smartphone3, but they’re addicted to it too, so we’re all screwed.
This post is a bit of a downer—sorry. What do you think about cellphones in schools? Should we ban them?
PS: I used these sources: